As a strategic partner with the Association of Colleges and School Leaders (ASCL) RM Education hosted a mini debate at BETT 2014 focused on the use of ICT in schools and colleges, with discussion led by three panellists with contributions from the audience.

As a pre-cursor to the Great Education Debate at the BETT closing ceremony, our mini debate engaged a range of key stakeholders including Chris Munday, Nicki Harman and Dr Anne Maddison.

How can ICT enhance the quality of teaching and learning?

With a background in teaching as well as educational consultancy, Nicki Harman, Education Manager at RM Education, led this topic. She said: “While ICT is an incredibly useful tool to help teachers, its usage needs to be well thought out in order to be as successful as possible; defining the focus and end result is key.”

All the panellists agreed that when using ICT it must add value to teaching and learning. This supports the viewpoint that a clear focus and aim for using ICT is essential. The technology used needs to empower teachers as well as making their life easier in order for them to engaging their pupils enabling value to be added at each stage of the education process.

Sharing knowledge, resources and information is key

Focusing more on technology and practitioners, Dr Anne Maddison was able to bring her wealth of experience to the debate. Anne is Head Teacher at Belmont School in Cheltenham, who have achieved the NAACE ICT Mark Accreditation as well as the 3rd Millennium ICT Award, and has first-hand experience of the teacher communities that are growing through the use of social media.

Anne commented:

There is so much fantastic technology out there but not everyone knows about it. Sharing these resources, and discussing them, through social media such as Twitter and other solutions such as TES Connect and Skype has increased knowledge transfer and collaboration, enabling not only our school to benefit but schools all across the UK and even further afield.

How can technology improve the leadership within schools and colleges?

As a digital expert, Chris Munday Head of Digital Content & Platforms highlighted that ‘A good MIS and supporting applications can make all the difference’ he also pointed out that ‘while it is often thought of as a school administration, an MIS provides power through the data it provides’. The discussion revolved around the power of data and how this can inform key strategic decisions and tactical interventions at a senior management level.

The discussion then moved to look at how a good management system can not only impact at a senior level but also bring benefits to all teaching staff. The reporting power of RM Books was highlighted as a key benefit. Chris said: “Not only does this make the process easier for teachers as you can see how long pupils have been reading as well as which books, but it empowers teachers to make the right decisions that can be tailored to each pupil.”

Embedded ICT in the curriculum is essential for schools today

Bringing the mini Great Education Debate to a close saw all three panellists and audience members look at the future of ICT. The need for continued engagement in ICT was seen as key, embedded its use into curriculum is essential for its success. Everyone agreed that flexibility and adaptation was crucial for the future, as ICT is shifting from a PC and server-based approach, but guaranteed connectivity and wireless access will become essential for schools.

You can have your say on the Great Education Debate hosted by ASCL at www.greateducationdebate.org.uk

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